Waking up at 4:45 a.m. is much more difficult when it’s 20 degrees and you’re snuggled into your toasty sleeping bag. We set off around 6 a.m. into the darkness with a clear sky of stars overhead. I was able to turn my headlamp off even in the dense woods around 6:30 after my eyes adjusted and the rays of twilight began. Night hiking proved to be quite fun, but it’s VERY hard to see the white blazes, so it’s easy to get lost at a junction if you’re not careful. The woods changed today from the typical deciduous trees we’ve seen since the beginning into a dense coniferous alpine forest.
Continue reading Week 3: Days 19-21; Nantahala Outdoor Center to Great Smoky Mountains
Leaving the NOC was an arduous affair. The NOC sits at 1,732′, and we climbed to 5,062′ in just a few miles without any real switchbacks. The view from Cheoah Bald was clear and open with a beautiful sunny day overhead. I took the time to enjoy my lunch with my feet up and FaceTime my parents. The hike in this area was unseasonably dry, and I didn’t pass any water. I finished my last drink as I entered Stecoah Gap, where low and behold there was trail magic of gallon jugs of fresh water.
Continue reading Week 3: Days 15-18; Nantahala Outdoor Center to Great Smoky Mountains